Houthi Discourse in Al-Jazeera: The Format and Content Dynamics of its Programs


Sat, 27-08-2022 04:02 PM, Aden

Aden (South24) 

A recent analytical research led to decisive conclusions which prove that the the Qatar-owned Al-Jazeera channel supports the Houthis in Yemen through its media coverage. The channel promotes the Houthi discourse in an oriented way through the dynamic integration of the content displayed on its screen. 
The research study, published by "South24 Center" in Arabic on Thursday, tackled the media approach adopted by Al-Jazeera towards the Houthis who are one of the prominent parties in the complicated conflict in Yemen.
The researcher analyzed Al-Jazeera's media approach in one episode of the well-known talk show program "Al-Hassad'' (the harvest). The episode included media content about the conflict between the Houthis and the alliance which supports the internationally-recognized government in the Yemeni war after attacks claimed by the Houthis against UAE facilities in early January. 

The research, authored by media discourse expert Mubarak Amer Bin Hajeb, who holds M.A. in Applied linguistics, aimed to "verify the hypothesis that the Arabic-speaking Al-Jazeera sides with the Houthi media, political and military discourse regarding the regional affairs of the Arab Coalition's states such as KSA and UAE.
In this research, the author used the Critical Discourse Analysis methodology along with using some codes of the Gail Jefferson System which is used to analyze conversations.
The research, which is unprecedented in this field, said: "The ongoing media war on the satellite channels in the Arab world is the most fierce and the least expensive one for countries, bodies, organizations, and parties. For that reason, they resorted to the media to expand their domination and influence of their political, economic, social and even dogmatic agendas". 

Al-Jazeera and the Houthis 

The Qatari news channel "Al-Jazeera", which includes a group of news channels, is one of the most important and influential in the Arab world. This is because the Qatari-funded Al-Jazeera has professional and highly-qualified media cadres. It also keeps up with the most developed technologies and has huge financial resources that put it among the top priorities of Arab viewers, especially those interested in political affairs.
The research added that " Al-Jazeera, which was established in 1996, broke the barrier of the official traditional media and built its public presence through bypassing the media taboos and presenting a different narrative for the events. The viewers used to hear the opposite of such a narrative from media platforms affiliated with the Arab regimes."
However, according to the research, accusation fingers have been quickly directed toward the controversial Qatari network, especially after the outbreak of the so-called "Arab spring revolutions" in 2011 in which Al-Jazeera played a big role in covering and fueling them. This included the Yemeni ongoing conflict which began in 2014. 
The research claimed that "the biased media approach adopted by Al-Jazeera in addressing the hot topics in the Arab area and the Arab Peninsula, in particular, pushed some observers to doubt the slogans of media principles which Al-Jazeera allege it abides by. This includes "Opinion and the other opinion" and "Al-Jazeera is the tribune of anyone who has no tribune". 
According to the research, Al-Jazeera gives the Houthis intensified media coverage regarding the group's news related to their regional conflict with the Arab Coalition's states, particularly KSA and UAE. 
This coverage has been apparently biased according to the research since the beginning of the diplomatic crisis with Doha and announcing the blockade of Qatar on June 5th, 2017. However, the sharpness of this coverage towards some of the quartet states has been softened after the reconciliation agreement with Qatar in Al-Ula announced by Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Ahmed Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Sabah on January 4th, 2021, and after the return of diplomatic relations with Doha. 

The research led to some conclusions which confirmed Al-Jazeera's media support of the Houthis. This is represented in its clear alignment with the group's regional-oriented discourse in a smart way. Furthermore, Al-Jazeera displays this to the viewers concurrently with the full absence of any voice that represents the internationally-recognized government of Yemen. 

According to the research, such conclusion highlights some points as shown below:

- The high professionalism in formulating the news along with the simultaneous merging of the static and movable images (video) and displaying them on the screen repeatedly in different locations of the episode. Moreover, there is an excessive repetition of “informative” phrases and sentences at the bottom of the screen accompanying the image. Additionally, the announcer has a strong acoustic performance along with the selected quality of the guests and the type of questions. All of this confirms Al-Jazeera's intention to fill the Arab viewer's mind with opinions that consist of the political and the military Houthi discourse. 
- The episode shows to what extent Al-Jazeera adopts the content of the Houthi discourse by portraying the UAE as an unsafe country. It attempt to suggest that the Yemeni group is able to hit its security and economy at any time to spread the security panic inside UAE as well as the big economic consequences related to this against the Gulf state. This also aims to highlight the Houthi ability to affect the global economy by hitting the energy resources in the Arab Gulf. 
-Al-Jazeera's strong insistence to highlight the US role in the Yemeni war is an attempt to enhance the Houthi claims to its audience that the group faces "an American invasion". 
- Stressing the security relationships between UAE and Israel after the normalization agreement between the two states fosters the anti-Israeli Houthi discourse and fuels the feelings of the Arab viewers against normalization as well as reinforces the idea of the Houthis that they are facing "Zionist aggression." 
- Al-Jazeera's keenness on underscoring the Iranian dimension of the Houthi attacks against UAE and KSA aims to expand the accusation circle to more than one party. 
- Displaying captured scenes from South Yemen while talking about the UAE's" response "goes in the same line with the Houthi discourse which describes the security and military forces affiliated with the STC as being "UAE-backed militias". 
- Al-Jazeera has tremendous and modern technologies which it uses in a smart way to pass its political media agenda in an attempt to distort, dwarf, or flatter one party while amplifying another one.
- Over the episode, the channel ignored the role of the internationally-recognized Yemeni government. It attempted to give this escalation a regional and global dimension in order to display its weakness in this aspect of the conflict. 

This research can be downloaded, free of charge, in an Arabic PDF file [here]

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